who painted the haywain1821
Flatford Mill was owned by Constable’s father. The house on the left side of the painting belonged to a neighbour, Willy Lott, a tenant farmer, who was said to have been born in the house and never to have left it for more than four days in his lifetime. Willy Lott’s Cottage has survived to this day practically unaltered, but none of the trees in the painting exist today.
Sold at the exhibition with three other Constables to the dealer John Arrowsmith, The Hay Wain was brought back to England by another dealer, D. T. White; he sold it to a Mr. Young who resided in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It was there that the painting came to the attention of the collector Henry Vaughan and the painter Charles Robert Leslie.  On the death of his friend Mr. Young, Vaughan bought the painting from the former’s estate; in 1886 he presented it to the National Gallery in London, where it still hangs today.  In his will Vaughan bequeathed the full-scale oil sketch for The Hay Wain, made with a palette knife, to the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). 
To make ends meet, Constable took up portraiture, which he found dull, though he executed many fine portraits. He also painted occasional religious pictures but, according to John Walker, “Constable’s incapacity as a religious painter cannot be overstated.” 
He began to deliver public lectures on the history of landscape painting, which were attended by distinguished audiences. In a series of lectures at the Royal Institution, Constable proposed a three-fold thesis: firstly, landscape painting is scientific as well as poetic; secondly, the imagination cannot alone produce art to bear comparison with reality; and thirdly, no great painter was ever self-taught.
Jonathan Clarkson, Constable, London 2010, p.211
The Hay Wain 1821
Oil on canvas
Courtesy The National Gallery, London
oil on canvas – Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The composition with the trees in the foreground framing the image to the right closely mirrors the arrangement of Lorrain’s work Hagar and the Angel (1646) and it is likely that Constable was inspired by the piece that played a formative role in his early art appreciation and education.
This is the third of the large landscapes set around the River Stour that Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825. The Hay Wain was shown in 1821, the year after Stratford Mill . His determination to capture the rural Suffolk landscape of his boyhood in these monumental paintings must in part have been due to a sense that this way of life was changing due to rapid industrialisation – the factories, steam power and locomotives that appear in works by his contemporaries, such as Turner, are absent from Constable’s paintings.
The small empty boat on the right is based on a study Constable made in 1809 – already used in The White Horse (National Gallery of Art, Washington) in 1819 and later used again in Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh) of 1831. It demonstrates Constable’s economy with his source materials, his instinct for local detail and his ability to balance a composition – for small though it is, the boat balances the house on the left and the hay wagon in the centre. The thick red fringes decorating the horses‘ leather collars add a bright note of colour.